Last week, we took a train from Switzerland to Austria. Of all places, we decided to stay in Dornbirn, a small city near the German and Swiss border. It is actually the tenth largest in Austria. Since we travel Europe with an infant, we did not want to ride a train for too long and kept things simple.
The train ride took about 4 hours, including a transfer in Zurich. Baby found the ride a bit annoying by the end but still had a blast once at the hotel.
The only reason why we discovered this city is that there was an SPG hotel sweet spot! Since we are using reward points for almost all of this trip, we looked at the Marriott and SPG hotel maps to find the best redemptions in Europe.
Those sweet spots can make the difference between spending a week at a hotel for free or spending the whole month traveling for the same price (in points).
Apply for the SPG card today (Canada) or
if you are from the USA, click here to find your card today!
We stayed 6 days at the Four Points by Sheraton Panoramahaus Dornbirn for a total redemption of 35,000 SPG points. This stay would have cost $180 per night, deeming the total value to be over 3¢ per point. All of that thanks to the SPG credit card!
$1080 Saved on hotels ÷ 35,000 points redeemed = $0.03086 per point
With our status with Marriott, we got upgraded to a room on the last floor, with a view of the mountains. We also got a little welcome gift, fresh macarons, which was nice. 🙂
Out of all the hotels we stayed at, this has to be the nicest gym/spa area we ever saw. Not only does it have beautiful views of the mountains, but it was humongous! The gym spans over 2 whole floors, offering every single piece of equipment imaginable, classes, and an outdoor patio to exercise in style. It is centrally located, near the bus line, a mall, and restaurants so we never had any troubles getting around.
With a whole other floor dedicated to the indoor pool and spa area, the outdoor pool offers panoramic views and the perfect spot for Baby to nap.
The spa area, which includes a female only and mixed section, offers dry saunas, infrared saunas, steam rooms, relaxation areas, and showers. There is something for every taste.
All-in-all, we were very pleased with this hotel and really enjoyed their facilities.
It was nice to be able to relax there when spent all day walking around.
We started by exploring the city on foot, walking around the historic neighborhoods. To be honest, though, we did more poolside than exploring on our first day. It was just too easy to lay down and relax!
Restaurant-wise, Austria is pretty affordable. Especially compared to Switzerland.
We were able to eat out for less than $10 per person at every meal. The drinks were very affordable too and groceries were even more. Between the food we made ourselves and the restaurants, we never spent more than $20 per person, per day.
After two days in Dornbirn, we decided to rent a car to enjoy Austria and explore a bit. We searched for tours and, since most guides publish their whole itinerary online, copied their route.
Wherever you are traveling, looking at some tour guide’s itineraries online is a great way to find the scenic routes and explore some country without breaking the bank. Instead of paying $150+ per person for a tour, we simply rented a car for $50 and drove to the exact same spots.
We rented a small Ford Fiesta from Hertz for $50 and drove a few hours around the region. We drove up crazy mountains, the roads were insane! The driving felt surreal, it was like a Gran Turismo. From left to right, up and down, we drove slowly but surely.
If we zoom in the map, you will see exactly what we had the pleasure of driving through. These Alpine roads are super narrow, windy, and fun to drive on! It was an experience we just could not miss.
Unfortunately, we cannot drive for much longer than four hours before Baby gets cranky so we now keep our road trips fairly short and stop often along the way.
After slightly less than two hours on the road, we stopped for lunch in Lech, a super nice ski town up in the Alps. We walked over a 400-year old bridge, ate our sandwiches, drank beers, and headed home.
On this trip, we stopped in Schwarzenberg, Lech, and Burserberg before driving back to the hotel. The views were fantastic and we highly recommend the drive.
On the next day, we visited the city right beside Dornbirn; Bregenz. This quaint lake-front town was an easy day trip, only a few minutes by train from Dornbirn.
It was fun to see the history and the grandness of the buildings. There is something quite magical to multi-century-old constructions. Just to think that some building was build 400, 700, 800 years ago is revealing. The oldest building we found so far was a 1,200 years-old church which was renovated 800 years ago. Pretty impressive.
It makes us think about the whole construction industry today. It is nearly impossible to find a good-quality condo builder nowadays. Most construction will start falling apart right after the warranty runs out!
On top of that, our other days were filled with poolside fun, relaxing spa time, and walks around town.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay in Austria. Everyone we encountered spoke a little English and was more than happy to help. Public transport was clean, efficient, and cheap. Restaurants were delicious and cheap. Finally, the country-side was simply breath-taking!
Austria definitively makes it on the list of countries we would love to visit again.
Now, we are off to one of our favorite. A country that will always be on the list of revisits; Italy.
Mr. and Mrs. Xyz